The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) foreign ministry on Sunday summoned Australia's diplomatic representative in protest of Canberra’s dropping the term "occupied" when referring to eastern Jerusalem, AFP reports.
"The Palestinian foreign ministry summoned the Australian representative Thomas Wilson over the recent comments by the Australian attorney general asking to stop referring to east Jerusalem as occupied territories," said a ministry statement quoted by the news agency.
Speaking to reporters in Ramallah, the PA’s foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said he was "worried" about the remarks, demanding that Canberra "give an official clarification of its position on east Jerusalem in the next few days."
Describing it as a "radical change in the Australian position on Palestine", Malki said the shift was made clear in a January interview with an Israeli website given by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in which she questioned whether Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria were illegal.
"Palestine is a state and its capital is under occupation, something that the United Nations and all its bodies are agreed on," Malki said, according to AFP.
The PA’s move came one day after chief negotiator Saeb Erekat threatened to ask Arab and Muslim-majority countries to re-evaluate relations with Australia.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman welcomed the move by Australia, which he said was not afraid to "tell the truth regarding the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians."
On Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed Australia’s move in his remarks before the weekly Cabinet meeting.
"The fact that this statement was said so clearly, so strongly - I would say courageously - is a refreshing chorus against hypocrisy and ignorance, ignorance not only of ancient history but also modern times,” said Netanyahu.
"You cannot build peace on a foundation of refuted historical lies," he continued. "The world has a real need to face this truth."